Thought i would start a TPTT exiles chat thread........
Looks like the UK based members get the run of the forum whilst the US/Canada/Australia/India sleeps.
I have to thank TPTT for re-igniting my interest in writing, sometimes life just takes over and before you know it you are 20 years older!
Anyway i am looking to finish my part completed stage play, finish my part completed TV drama, finish my part completed sit com, finish my part completed film script, finish this sentence...... Any one spot a pattern emerging here?
Hello all. I'm having a bit of trouble typing on this site as the page dances in a bit of a bizarre way. In comparison to you guys, I am a complete novice at a)forums b) technology and c) writing. I did a bit of creative writing at university and have kept a journal for years, but how and when did you find the courage to go public?
Sounds like an excellent list of reasons! Good for you. Now, pardon my ignorance, but have you been published before or are you still completely on the "nobody has yet noticed your talent yet" heap? I am not underestimating the strength of character it must take to keep facing rejection.
I asked if your TV was a series/serial....
it's just that when I sent a 1-off play to BBCTV, they said they liked it but no producer had the budget for a 1off from an unknown.
It used to happen, but not any more. A 1off play is a rarity on TV.
So, I spent about six months meeting producers and script editors working on series:
Is that true? Would i be better steering my 80 page Comedy drama into being a pilot for a series or stretch it into a serial, as opposed to a one off. And didn't i hear the BBC were looking to make commercially viable feature length stuff for the Cinema?
Any advice re formating and submitting most welcome.
Hi Swann, we haven't been formally introduced, but you may well have tripped over me on the tptt forum! What was your opinion of the play? Not sure if this is your first viewing or not? (By the way, I promise I won't try and zing you! You are in the "seen it" brigade, so quite safe!) Genuinely interested in your view.
Oh, my dear Nikip, I did read your posts on TTPT on the dying days of the forum and I thought your cause was just and righteous. I know you tried to take on the silverbacks and I admire you for it. The more I think about how much time I wasted on that very enterprise the more frustrated I become.
I am glad I saw the play, I think it was the right thing to do. I thought the acting was great and the scenes impressive. I saw glimpses of the beginnings of what could have been a compelling play but instead, I thought it was kind of a mess with a cheap cop-out ending. I am sorry to have that conclusion but that's the one I have.
Let me ask you:
1 What made you care about Clair and Robbie's differences? Did it frustrate you that there was lots of conflict between them but not a lot of interesting interaction?
2. What did Elvis add for you? To me it was an indulgence without a point that didn't add anything to the play at all.
3. What do you think the point of the play is? I was so mad at the end. Was the playwright really trying to tell you that Jesus can just make everything all better and instantly erase years of problems like he erased Clair's scars?
I think the reason I am going so ballistic is that the play I finished recently has a salient similiarity: there is something that could be interpreted as a miracle near the end.
You know, if you are going to make Jesus a character, then make him a character. Was he there to heal Clair or to sleep with her? Why her? And what's with the last minute stuff pleading with his father. His mission and purpose (and other things like whether or not he had already been crucified, etc) were vague which made him malleable to the extreme.
Hi Swann, I will attempt to answer your questions if I can!
Claire and Robbie – I guess I thought that it was the lack of interaction that was compelling, probably because I found it realistic. The division that had been created by their grief is the reverse of the “expected” support network in such circumstances and their isolation, life “destruction” and inability to love healthily made it powerful for me. I suppose as a teacher, I see this kind of dark, silent familial conflict and the impact it has quite regularly and it was something I recognised as genuinely insightful.
Elvis? I loved his bizarre, over-stated presence. It made the scene seem almost ludicrous, yes, but I thought that it highlighted the understated plight of the two siblings, thus showing both situations as…absurd and extreme. I thought it was an interesting, unusual and brave representation of the tragic-comic that, for me, worked.
The point to the play I guess is what every individual finds there. To me, I was delighted that Kate chose a positive, uplifting ending of resolution and forgiveness (otherwise the critics that have hurled “over-darkness” at her themes may have had a point!) It was a writing choice and she could have taken either route. I feel that the era of the happy ending seems long past, and I thought it was brave of her to resurrect it. The characters were in a bleak place and found their way back. That leaves the conundrum of Jesus and yes, I saw him as a conundrum too, which is why I argued that he was not necessarily religious. To humanise him in such a way, with weaknesses, desires, frailties and as a man who did not have all the answers was pretty emotive. And to me, the sign of a good play, novel or short story is just the question that you pose. I don’t think you should find all the answers in a piece of writing. It should mean different things to different people and I think this play does just that. I think it should provoke you to find those answers in yourself. (my idealistic voice again!) Robbie bleeding in the cave? Subversion from the norm into a hellish crucifixion? A person in desperate circumstances reaching out for help and bleeding from the inside? What did it mean to you?
And thank you Swann for your review, your questions and your comments about my participation on the TPTT forum. It is difficult to know how you are perceived by your “readers” as well you know!
Hey Nikip, write one of the one-page plays in the playwright's gym section. They're loads of fun and they take so little time - just one page. Have Playful give you a line to incorporate into it and sometimes that is enough to set the tone and the direction of the piece. Jump in! You'll love it.
Good points, well made. Thanks for responding. I do have to echo Edd's advice and say you should write a one-pager. That's really short. In New York they have a seven second play competition and the plays must take place in a phone conversation. That's about as short as you can get. Edd's is about 60 seconds.
Anyway, The Third Day. Just a friendly response to your ideas.
Clair and Robbie: I see your point. Maybe it was realistic to have the adult versions never interact until the end of the play. Fine. Let them interact with someone else besides a deity so that I can get some empathy, so that I can understand what the events that bookend the play (the night they go missing and the dinner at the Italian) mean to them now. We see them only in extremes and so it's harder for me to build up a true empathy for the character. Showing self-harm is easy. Showing the self-loathing and excruciating pain of life that makes self-harm preferable. That's hard, but that would have made me understand and love Clair much more. I understand that we got it visually - Clair had to keep going up, Robbie had to keep going down - but I needed it narratively.
Elvis and Jesus: Your next two points really, as you point out, work interestingly together. I think you can have Elvis like that or you can have Jesus like that but you can't have both. Because they are both supernatural characters and we must learn what one is like from the other. What else is Elvis here but the next Jesus, the shadow, the trainee? And you don't have real Elvis - as you argue below you have a real Jesus- you have super-fake Elvis. But you're supposed to have super-real Jesus? Human Jesus? Well, then we should have had a human Elvis without the famous Aztec Sunset jumpsiot. Let's get him circa 1976, overweight, needing the crapper, high on seven kinds of drugs and forcing his cook ("Cookie") to make him fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches in Graceland. See, Nikip, my most successful play to date had Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain and Lizzie Borden (19th c. American murderess). Famous people as characters. And if you are going to go down that road, you still have to understand your character. I feel like the playwright served up an emotional shorthand by invoking these characters without really understanding them. She at least needed to be crystal clear on what had really happened. At least for me. Because if you leave TOO MANY open questions in a play, it's not worth my while to get engaged, to really care what happens next, because with too many questions ANYTHING can happen next, so why bother thinking about it. Maybe I'm in a minority here, but I think it's a legitimate point. It's true for me with novels, sitcoms, movies and plays. I have to care about what happens next. And I have to care authentically. If I only care because the playwright pushed certain emotional buttons unfairly, then we have what I like to call an Andrew Lloyd Weber problem. The music and the sadness make me cry and I always feel so dirty and angry afterward. Kind of like when I saw the Titanic. Or E.T. - big emotional moments that the story didn't bear so instead the playwright tried to move us with cliche - the ocean roars, the music swells, it's Jesus, I'm healed! I forgive you! That joy of forgiveness. I want to believe that it is possible but I don't believe it is possible to convey on stage without also showing the hard reality of Clair and Robbie moving to the place in their hearts and minds where that kind of healing is possible. Not showing up at an Italian restaurant and getting it served up deus ex machina. She shortchanged us in the picture of the emotional journey.
The more I think about the play, the more I liked it. I got all worked up like this after I saw India Ink, Jumpers and Anna de veare Smith's Spinning. I wanted to love it so much that I am holding it to very high standards indeed.
Night Swann. Will respond to your excellently expressed and fascinating analysis tomorrow. So too, your play. To Edd, thanks so much for the tip. I really am not sure. Will need some time to navigate the forum and get my feet. But I really appreciate your encouragement.
I can see why you find the involvement of Jesus difficult, but again, often a third party would be necessary in such circumstances: counsellor, friend, psychiatrist etc. Using Jesus as a mediator, either as deity or human, gave the plot an increased edge and underpinned the Planetarium/pothole, Heaven/Hell, good/bad, light/dark ideas. In religious terms, Jesus and forgiveness are “the norm.” Here Kate made the “usual” unusual and unexpected (would he have sex with Claire or not? His ignorance on many topics etc) and gave him an earthly ordinariness that appealed to me. I think it was him that I cared about most. I wanted him to succeed.
I also think that the scenes with the children gave reasons for self-harm, self-loathing etc. Watching young Claire trying to be adult and parent to young Robbie with no maturity or parental guidance to support her, just her wits and instinct to placate him, gave those reasons. The kiss that was once just a child-like comforter and soothing device coming from a love that was purely meant to heal, turned on its head in adulthood to become a guilt ridden place. (pretty typical human response. And certainly the adult audience found these scenes uncomfortable, because we put adult minds upon them. At the time, these moments were ones of childish innocence. The adult in us changes them, as do the adults in Kate’s play.) The understanding, love and goodness intended by those moments became, as adults, something sinister, sexual, alarming, fearful and from that grew self-loathing and self-harm.
Loved reading your view of Elvis! Beautifully expressed! I guess that comes down to a taste thing in many ways. In a way I suppose I saw them as opposite more than linked. Jesus the sensitive, Elvis the oblivious! And I truly laughed at how totally egocentric he was, especially given that on the same stage this gut-wrenching moment between Claire and Robbie was playing out. His selfishness contrasted with Jesus’ altruism. I felt almost bad that I found Elvis so funny, but the heady mix of laughter and pain meant that I was extremely emotionally hyped up before the poignant ending. The things that made it difficult for you to care were the things that made me care in a way.
The “worked up” bit at the end of your review is great, because I too think the play resonates, and it is just the questions it poses that make me turn it over and over in my head. I would say that every playwright would like to create that reaction.
And crikey, “Lizzie Borden took an axe…” and all that. That was a blast from the past! Haven’t thought about that story in years!
I will have a look at your play today. Really looking forward to it.
Swann, I have just read your first four scenes. Wow! I found it totally mesmerising. What a script! No wonder you are in talks with a production company!
I will attempt to answer some of your questions, though it may well think of many other things as the play sinks in.
What it is about: The overarching feeling I got was a kind of fascism v socialism stance. It was about lack of care in our society and how difference is often seen as threatening. It was about dictatorship and rebellion, religion and faith and loss of faith and also human relationships. It was about the government v the people…..Many many themes in a short space of time.
What I liked: The characters were deep but accessible. The script was intellectual, full of detail, insightful, exciting but easy to read. My comment about “many themes” could be seen by some as negative, but it really worked. It provoked thought and got right into the heart of many current issues.
What I didn’t like. Not much is the long and the short answer to that! I did get a little confused about time (but that was my reading skills!). My first thought was that Scene 2 should come before Scene 1, and then I realised that in terms of time in the play it did! I thought that a voice about ASBO kids wasn’t touched upon – that which believes that if parents are unable to put in boundaries then society has a responsibility to do so, acting in the interests of the child. It is an important moral dilemma, and one that would fit very well as a discussion point in the play. Also had some concerns that Abi’s psychosis may diminish her voice a little, and she delivers some fantastic lines and beliefs! (how much of you is in her by the way?). But maybe that is the point. Maybe Abi’s voice shouldn’t be diminished and counts along side everyone’s in what I saw as very much “the people’s play.”
I actually think the American/British tension is highly appropriate for the current political climate. It is something that is discussed across many a dinner table, and would fit both markets. I certainly think the Brits would approve!
I’m sure more things will come to me, and I will post them as I think of them. Your play has made me realise how I am NOT ready to start posting any writing on here yet! And overall opinion, I will be first at the theatre door.
I am so grateful that you took the time to look at it and answer the questions. Thank you so much for your comments. All the illness in Abi is from my own experience (I am bipolar). All the success that Abi experienced in the States is not mine. Her views of being an expat in London and being married to a British man are, at least in my husband's view, distressingly near the mark.
That play took me a long time, N. A long time.
You obviously have an intuitive grasp of story and character and I think you should write something short just for fun. You'll be surprised at what you have in you.
Thanks again for the civilized discussion, kind words and treasured praise.
One more thing to add in support of On The Third Day. It stayed with me today, on my commute, the ideas, the relation of the set and the action to the story, the different possible interpretations of the backstory. And like Nikip says, to me that is a hallmark of a successful play - it agitates me enough to imagine rewriting it, and insodoing makes me think about life and what the truths of life are. And I guess in the end, that's high praise.
I sensed straight away that you were in Abi. She is such a "whole" and believable character. And thank you also for your candid disclosures. How long has it actually taken you to write it? I would love to hear about your writing process.
And my fear about writing is that I have zero confidence! As a critic, I am confident in my voice. Everyone has an opinion:everyone is a critic on some level. As a writer? That is a different skill, and certainly not one that everyone possesses. I'm just not sure. I do feel enthused; excited even, about attempting something, but pure terror may get the better of me! We'll see.
And your last comments about On The Third Day strike a chord. I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing it with someone who is real, direct and not just trying to be clever with words. Very refreshing.
OK, I HAVE to get off the computer and go clean our flat. But it's so much more fun chatting about this stuff.
If you are confident as a critic, I think you could write something.
Two tricks. First, remember that it is "so easy to criticize" (I never know whether to do US or UK spelling on this forum) It is very hard to make something but very easy to tear it down. You should always keep this in mind.
Second, write for yourself as an audience member. Make your decisions about what you want to focus on based on what you like to see.
You'll be amazed at how quickly your characters get a voice of their own and start doing what they want regardless of you.
It’s really interesting to see so many TPTT people come and use this forum.
I’ve been here (albeit as a lurker for many months) for a couple of years – and used to post when the forum was in its old guise (much better now – thanks Edd/Paul!).
I did post on the TPTT forum, but it had one flaw… It started with a collection of aspiring playwrights talking about how to get their work noticed. Then when the programme aired, it was all about the final 30 plays, then the 10, then the 3 ,then the final selection. As far as play writing was concerned, the forum died as a useful resource after the episode the named the winner.
Then it broke down into collectives of ‘Who loved/liked the play’, ‘Who wants to review the play’, ‘Who is going to see the play’, ‘Who doesn’t want to see the play’ and bickering between parties.
I do find the idea of an exile thread a little sad. This is a new and improved forum for playwrights attempting (and in many cases) succeeding in promoting their works. I’d like to say that this thread should be there to say ‘Hi, it’s me’ to the former TPTT posters – then go and join the rest of the threads/topic areas.
Jack wrote: It’s really interesting to see so many TPTT people come and use this forum.
I’d like to say that this thread should be there to say ‘Hi, it’s me’ to the former TPTT posters – then go and join the rest of the threads/topic areas.
Totally agree, that was why i started this thread - so we, and you, could say 'hi' without messing up the other threads. You will see that whilst we are still finding our forum feet, several of us have already started posting on other threads. This forum offers help, advice and support in a way that the TPTT forum was never set up to provide.
Did you enter TPTT? And what name did you post under on the TPTT forum?
I've used this forum for quite some time and have made a number of usefull contacts and gained a lot of advice. I've even been lucky enough to have had a couple of 'pro' playwrights here review my work and remained in a email dialogue with them.
I am reluctant to post any of my work on this forum (or any other) due to the pyublic domain impact to any 'first rights' options that may or may not occur with a play of mine being picked up.
I lurked for quite a few months on the TTPT forum but never joined in. I enjoyed it hugely, more so than the programme. I would have loved to see more of the wannabees and less of the final three. I would also have loved to have followed more of how the final three plays were developed and who helped with this.
I found it hilarious during the philstein "is he isn't he debate" and loved it when Kate Betts finally spoke up. I should imagine everyone even remotely connected to the programme lurked at some point we are after all only human.
I love your zorg play very funny and i could see it on tv as part of some sketch show.
I love writing sketches when I have the time.
Anyway better go and pick up small boy from soccer school, it's been raining so he will have changed colour.
Glad you were able to offload that Swann, says I suspended from the bathroom ceiling, paintbrush in hand! I'm afraid my cleaning threw up a whole load of other issues! I have dabbled about in the playwrighter's gym. The tasks are fun! Hope all is well with you x
Oh, the other thing is, Boz I read your short about the married couple. Loved it. I too thought that the characters at the end were unnecessary. The waiter I quite liked, as it gave a little "normality" to the situation.
At first I thought he was, cos he seemed too laid back to be an imposter.
And I knew Neil Pearson was or had been in Canada/US working on BBCTV series...
but then his posts got scrubbed- I began to doubt my gut feeling.
I'm glad he was!
Kate and her partner sound delightfull.
Playfull met then both at the Q&A- he says they were the last to leave the theatre- they were so willing to talk.
I'm sure we'll be seeing more of Kate and her work in the very near future.
yep- I'm cautious about posting stuff which I may later punt out.
But I note Edd has some very usefull advice on another thread- which makes perfect sense to me.
Swann1719 wrote: I thought I would never have the opportunity to say this, but Devina, you gave me an in. I was always a believer in the PS/NP debate and I thought the unbelievers sad. There. I feel better.
I'd hoped this issue could have been avoided on this forum. To use your own turn of phrase, Swann - I fear that statement may well have been "throwing down the gauntlet" to those it's aimed at and could well start the whole sorry discussion/justifications going again. No one, after all, however wrong they are wishes to be labelled sad. Especially with the wisdom of retrospect.
I think it's unfortunately true of most forum posters that they enjoy nothing more than a good argument.
Which is why these places just aren't for me. I shall continue to "lurk" and see how you are all doing, this forum is certainly a more constructive area for new writers. But for now, I'm signing off.
I am thrilled you all have chosen this forum over your old one. TPTT's loss is The Plalywrights' Forum's gain and our pleasure.
I would, however, like to make something clear. I love arguments, in fact I thrive on them--they help us grow and they help us develop that extra layer of skin neccessary in the real world of Theatre. Please, know that our only rule (and strictly enforced) is to argue with complete respect for one another. None of you are remotely guilty of this, but with PhilStein's reaction I saw an opportunity to mention this--as I do with everyone and, doubtless, will continue to do.
All subjects are welcome here. It's never what one says, but rather how one says it. We've gotten through what could have been very nasty exchanges regarding reading fees. It was handled by arguing the subject and not the individual.
Civilization is crumbling all around us to one degree or another (on both sides of the pond), but here we can be a standard and an example.
Jack, thank you and I couldn't agree more that we need to get our work produced.
We've got a great list of submission opportunities. I think one of the best on the net. Once we get through this hot summer we're going to have a thread for Speed Submissions where for a month we send out at least one script per day. Besides the list of opps already available we'll all share those we find on our own. We'll post the name of the theatre we send our submissions to on a daily basis. We'll report back to the group as acceptances and rejections arrive. I've been with the Playwrights' Binge Group and I can testify that it really works. There are many bingers in this forum who will also attest to how this has gotten them multiple productions. They're a great group, but The Playwrights' Forum is all I have time for. So I'm stealing their brilliant idea and introducing here. (I hope I won't need a bodyguard.) Stay tuned for a formal announcement.
Welcome, and thanks for your kind words in the introduction thread.
Swann1719 wrote: I thought I would never have the opportunity to say this, but Devina, you gave me an in. I was always a believer in the PS/NP debate and I thought the unbelievers sad. There. I feel better.
lurker (is that the right word?) from the tptt site here. can i just say that I came here because of playfull's invite, but I never reggied on tptt because all i saw was people throwing abuse around just like this - mostly uneccessarily. i hope its not going to be the same here.
anyway - i understand that this link is for us to say 'hello' and then move on, so i thought i would.
single f playwright, never professionally produced or published, wltm anyone who could help her pay the mortage!